Chapter 13: Software Tools
The master scheduling tools are almost as important as the master production scheduling process not quite, but almost. The tools used for master scheduling are normally found within the enterprise resource planning (ERP) business system and are improving every day. These tools make activities like available to promise and order configuration much easier and more accurate. While the master production schedule can be done on a spreadsheet, having it embedded in the ERP business system just makes good sense because of the importance of system integration. In achieving good schedules and performance in customer service, process linkage is important.
As is apparent from Figure 13.1, the process linkage is complex. Without software tools to keep the linkage repeatable, it becomes very cumbersome to keep everything in sync. Inside the dotted-line box in the middle of the illustration is the order configurator that links customer information to the master schedule. This must be closely linked to the inventory strategy. The order configurator is much like a hierarchy decision tree that translates customer needs into part numbers with options and features to match each need. Many businesses use inventory strategies other than make to stock. For example, assemble-to-order strategy requires the ability to take options and features and develop a bill of material from the customer inputs that results in a specific configuration that can be understood by the manufacturing operation. As soon as the configuration is understood, it can be translated into a work order and released to...